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How to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone With Helen Li

I think people often get told to stay in their lane, that what they’re familiar with is what they’re best at. Have you ever heard the saying “Draw what you know”? It’s a common sentiment, whether you’re in a creative field or not, but that doesn’t mean that you have to do what you’re comfortable with now for the rest of your life.

Change your scenery.

The easiest way to get out of your comfort zone is to move. It doesn’t have to be a big move–although that’s what I prefer–but switching up your surroundings can be really helpful in expanding your experiences. I moved from China to Australia as a child, then to New York to study, and finally landed in Warsaw, Poland. With each move, I was able to gain life experiences that I would have never been exposed to if I hadn’t left the place I knew so well.

Do what scares you.

I can be a very anxious person, and it can be easy to fall victim to my fears. I’ve learned it’s incredibly important for me to dive head first into situations that scare me. I started tattooing because I developed social anxiety after my move to Poland, and feared even leaving my house. I started training in MMA because I was scared to hit someone, so instead of letting that fear decide for me, I decided to try it out and actually see if I enjoyed it or not. Facing your fears, as cliche as it sounds, is the best way to broaden your realm of possibilities and know more.

The key is to learn more.

Never forget that the purpose of exiting your comfort zone is to learn more. You want to know as much as you can about yourself and the world around you. This knowledge is what informs your art and your work. The more you know and learn and grow, the more sources of inspiration you have to pull from. The goal is not to be complacent, not to accept what you currently know as the limits, but to be aware that you can always know more than you do now. That way, you have a greater arsenal of experiences which you can draw, represent, and share.

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